In 2006, the Dutch government introduced a naturalization ceremony for foreigners wishing to become Dutch citizens. Local bureaucrats who organize the ceremony initially disapproved of the measure as symbolic of the neonationalist approach to migration. I analyze how their criticism is undermined in the process of designing the ritual, the form of which continues to express a culturalist message of citizenship, despite organizers’ explicit criticism or ridicule. Using the concept of “cultural intimacy,” I show how nationalism builds on a shared embarrassment among local bureaucrats, from which the new citizens are excluded by way of the ceremony.
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